The Middle East could accelerate the widespread use of satellite navigation systems, given its buoyant aviation industry and limited airspace, according to Honeywell.

With around 80% of its airspace controlled by the military, there is little space for manoeuvre for the region's rapidly expanding airlines and airports, according to Brian Davis, vice president electrical sales/air traffic management/biofuels at Honeywell.

Hubs such as Dubai International would particularly benefit from GPS-based navigation aids, so flights could be operated more efficiently and capacity expanded.

While a conventional, radio-based instrument landing system can provide signals for just one approach path, requiring aircraft to be "lined up" in the air with certain separation minima, GPS landing technology with a ground-based augmentation system (GBAS) can guide aircraft via multiple paths to the runway.

Honeywell's "Smartpath" landing system provides up to 26 different approaches, with curved paths as close 4nm to the airport, said Davis.

The equipment would, for example, allow specific approaches for different aircraft sizes and thus avoid extended separation distances between large and smaller aircraft.

It would be possible to introduce shallower glide paths for widebody aircraft, while narrowbodies follow slightly higher on a steeper descent. This would prevent the smaller aircraft encountering the former's wake turbulences as the air waves sink towards the ground and dissipate.

"Smartpath would be optimal for Dubai because it handles a significant amount of the world's widebody fleet but also a huge number of narrowbody feeder aircraft," said Davis.

Another advantage is that the GPS system is not affected by aircraft or obstacles on the ground. As large aircraft can interfere with an ILS signal when they stand at the end of a runway, they may have to wait at a distance before lining up for take off. The satellite navigation equipment would allow optimised traffic movement in the air and on the ground, according to Davis.

Honeywell's system is in use for Category 1 landings at individual airports in different countries, including the USA, Spain, Brazil and Australia.

Davis said that the Federal Aviation Administration is funding the manufacturer to expand the capability to Category 3 landings.

Source: Flight Daily News